BULACAN — The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee delivered on its promise of a “world-class” show as the 30th SEA Games formally opened Saturday at the Philippine Arena.
Asia’s Nightingale Lani Misalucha performed a powerful rendition of Lupang Hinirang before a four-part production of song and dance followed.
Dancers from the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group led the other performers, consisting of students from various schools and universities across the country, in opening the production segment with dances from the indigenous peoples, setting up for the parade of athletes.
Eleven Filipina beauty queens walked before the athletes from the 11 participating NOCs, similar to a Santacruzan parade, with Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach taking the lead for the Philippines. Instead of the usual single flag bearer, the hosts had five with Meggie Ochoa (jiujitsu), Margie Didal (skateboarding), Eumir Marcial (boxing), EJ Obiena (athletics), and Kiyomi Watanabe (judo) carrying a huge flag to lead the 1,115 athletes and 753 officials entering the Arena to the music of the iconic song, “Manila” by The Hotdogs.
Robert Seña welcomed the athletes to the Philippines with a revised version of Hadji Alejandro’s “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika”.
The Southeast Asian Games Federation flag was then carried into the Arena by Filipino sporting greats with Lydia De Vega-Mercado of athletics; Akiko Thomson and Eric Buhain of swimming; Bong Coo and Paeng Nepomuceno of bowling; Alvin Patrimonio of basketball; Onyok Velasco of boxing; and Efren “Bata” Reyes, who is still competing in this year’s Games at the age of 65.
The Athletes’ Oath and Officials’ Oath followed with Cheska Altomonte, captain of the nine-time Games champion Philippine women’s softball team, and Daren Vitug of eSports, representing the athletes and the officials, respectively.
Christian Bautista and Aicelle Santos then serenaded the crowd with Kundiman song, “Minamahal”. Inigo Pascual came out of a bahay-kubo and began a tribute to the OPM legend Francis Magalona, along with KZ Tandingan and the rapper’s son, Elmo Magalona.
International star Apl.de.ap closed the party with his group Black Eyed Peas’ monster hit “Bebot”, putting the crowd into a frenzy.
The night ended with the singing of the Games’ official theme song “We Win As One”, as the previous singers were joined by Jed Medela, TNT Boys, and Ana Fegi.
As the song progressed, boxing legend and Senator Manny Pacquiao brought in the torch and, with reigning 2019 AIBA Women’s Champion Nesthy Petecio,, lit up the cauldron at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium as the ceremony closed and officially announced the opening of the Games itself.
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